Jesus – Man, Myth or God?

Dr. Bill Bright

Perhaps you have wondered, Is Christianity really established upon historical facts? Dr. Clifford Herbert Moore, a former professor at Harvard University writes:

Christianity knew its Savior and Redeemer, not as some god whose history was contained in a mythical faith, with rude, primitive and even offensive elements. The Christian’s faith is founded on positive, historical and acceptable facts.

A long list could be made of such outstanding scholars who devoutly followed Christ. Dr. William Lyon Phelps, a professor at Yale University for forty years and one of the most distinguished educators in the history of our country, expressed his confidence in the historical evidence concerning the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and frequently shared his personal faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

It is true that there are men — among them some of the world’s most honored scholars — who do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior. But I am appalled when I talk to many of these men about Christ, for I discover that almost always they are ignorant of the basic truths of the gospel. If you would read any of the writings of Robert Ingersoll, Thomas Paine, or other well-known skeptics, you would be amazed to discover that these men are taking issue with something they do not fully understand. They have erected straw men, labeled them Christians, and then proceeded to destroy their own creations.

Any reputable argument for the validity of Christianity stands or falls on the proof of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It is for this reason that His resurrection has been ridiculed and contested through the centuries by all kinds of skeptics. It is for the same reason that men of faith from all walks of life and disciplines of learning have dedicated their entire lives to proving that Jesus truly was raised from the dead.

Learn about the several irrefutable pieces of evidence that have brought me to the firm conviction that Jesus was raised from the dead, thereby proving Himself to be the Son of God.

Examining the Evidence

Many cynics and skeptics deny the claims of Christ. I have met people who are militantly antagonistic toward Him, though I must say that they are in the great minority. Some of them say that He is just a myth or that He is a great man and nothing more. They ridicule the Bible and make fun of those who worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

One of the best-known skeptics of this century was C.S. Lewis, a professor at Oxford University. For years, he was an agnostic who denied the deity of Christ. After a long process of searching for answers, he received Christ as his Savior and Lord. Later he wrote many outstanding books advocating belief in Christ as Savior.

In “Mere Christianity,” Lewis states:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic on the level of a man who says he’s a poached egg — or else he would be the devil of hell; you must take your choice.

Accepting the Truth

I have yet to meet a man who has honestly considered the overwhelming evidence concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who does not admit that He is the Son of God. While some do not believe, they are honest in confessing, “I have not taken the time to read the Bible or consider the historical facts concerning Jesus.” Their attitude is founded upon an unfortunate childhood experience, the inconsistency of some Christian, or perhaps the influence of a college professor; but they admit that they have not honestly and sincerely considered the person of Jesus Christ and His claims on their lives.

Consider these passages concerning Jesus of Nazareth, taken from the Word of God: Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:1-2, and Ephesians 1:9-10.

In my quest for truth concerning the resurrection of Jesus, I discovered that many great scholars have believed, and do believe, in His resurrection. After examining the evidence for the resurrection given by the gospel writers, the late Simon Greenleaf, an authority in jurisprudence at Harvard Law School, concluded, “It was therefore impossible that they [the early Christians] could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.”

Dr. William Lyon Phelps wrote: “It may be said that the historical evidence for the resurrection is stronger than for any other miracle anywhere narrated.”

John Singleton Copley, recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in British history, comments, “I know pretty well what evidence is, and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never broken down yet.”

These pieces of evidence satisfied my questions on the validity of the resurrection, and as a result, I invited the living Christ to come into my life almost fifty years ago.

Some years after I made my commitment to Christ as Savior and Lord, I sat in an empty tomb in Jerusalem — the tomb in which many believe the body of Jesus of Nazareth was laid the day of His crucifixion. It has been empty for almost 2,000 years.

I had gone to this garden tomb with great excitement. Somehow I felt that there I would meet with my Lord in a unique and special way. I anticipated that He would manifest Himself to me as in no other place, at no other time. Silently, I waited alone. Nothing happened. I was disappointed.

Then I remembered the words of those angelic beings who spoke to the women on that first Easter morning, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen” (Luke 24:5-6 New American Standard Bible). Then I understood, as I never quite understood before, that Jesus of Nazareth, the risen Christ, was present in that tomb just as He was and is present in any other part of the world where men place their faith and trust in Him. Yes, He was with me in that tomb because He lives within me. But He is also with me on every continent and in every country where I travel and speak.

Jesus Christ promises to all who place their trust in Him to be with them always, never to leave them or forsake them. Of all the great, life-changing truths contained in the Bible, the most meaningful to me is that my body is a temple of God, and the living, loving Lord, Jesus Christ, actually dwells within me.

Not only is Jesus the Son of God, He also can do things for us that no one else can do. I want to concentrate on four of these.

First, He is the only One who can pardon man from his sin.

Second, He alone can give purpose for life.

Third, He alone can give peace to a troubled heart.

Fourth, and finally, only Jesus can give us power to live an abundant life.

© 1971, 1998 Bill Bright, New Life Publications. All rights reserved. Adapted with permission from Bill Bright, “Jesus and the Intellectual” (Peachtree City, GA, NewLife Publications).

Bill Bright was the co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ International.

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